Characteristics of National Pressing Styles
by Charles A. Smith
It is significant that three grip widths are embodied in the three styles, and require special technique in positioning of the body for the lift. Experimentation will help you find an ideal width of grip for your press. It is advised that you try all three handspacings, since it is quite possible that your best form for maximum efficiency will be a combination of the styles outlined below. Practice these particular methods until you find your press going extra smooth and there is no letup in the speed with which it travels to arms length. A sure sign of bad style for you is if there is a slowing up as the press reaches the area between the chin and the eyes. One must expect a little slowing down with limit poundages, but if every press you make slows up after leaving the shoulders and gains speed after it passes the top of your head it is a sure indication the style you are using is not the best for you. A good press is one that maintains an even pace all the way.
As soon as the weight comes into pressing position after the clean, thrust your chest as high as possible and start a deep breath. As the bar passes the top of the head, breath out, reaching your “empty” point just as the bar reaches arms length position. This method of breathing is widely used particularly in
A.) American Method
The body is braced very firmly and the knees are locked firmly. There is a slight set back to the shoulders. The hand spacing is wide and is what assures a strong first drive to the bar. The elbows slant slightly inwards and are pressed against the latissimus. As the weight is pressed away from the shoulders, the latissimus muscles are relaxed and momentum is maintained by a slight thrust back. The full power of the deltoids combines with the triceps and there is no wasted effort. The latissimus muscles form a firm foundation from which to start the press and keep it going . . . Wide grip . . . Slight inward slant to the elbows which rest firmly against the lats . . . Knees and body firmly braced . . . Slight set back to the shoulders . . . Weight pressed up and slightly back.
B.) Russian Method
Makes use of a wide grip with a slight tilt back of the head and a distinct slanting in of the elbows. The body is set in a curve back from heels to shoulders taken before the press proper is begun. The chest is held high, and as the weight is pressed to arms length there is a follow through to the front with the head, while the body recovers from the “set.” It is obvious that this press violates the rules set down by the International Federation. However, the Russian attitude is a realistic one. Their pressing method makes it possible for the lifter to maintain balance during the crucial portion of the press. Men who have a distinct forward curve to the lower back might find this style very effective. Wide grip . . . Elbows slanting down and in from hands to body . . .Chest held high . . .Slight tilt back of head . . . Slight set back of body.
C.) Egyptian Method
Here the width of the grip is somewhat narrower, barely wider than shoulder width. As you grip the bar to clean, press down on it and contract the trapezius muscle. The bar is cleaned into the shoulders and the elbows point forward. As the weight is pressed away from the shoulders and arrives in the area of the sticking point the elbows are pointed out and the trapezius muscle relaxes. This allows the shoulder blades to partially rotate, thus enabling the weight to pass more easily through the sticking point, and be pressed successfully to arms length . . . Grip slightly more than shoulder width and not wider . . . Trapezius contracted . . . Elbows pointed forward . . . Elbows switched to “out” . . . Trapezius relaxing as bar reaches sticking point.